« ElőzőTovább »
entertained. He carries you round and round, with- 1781. out carrying you forward to the point; but then you à have no wish to be carried forward.” He said to the Reverend Mr. Strahan, “ Warburton is perhaps the last man who has written with a mind full of reading and reflection."
It is remarkable, that in the Life of Broome, Johnson takes notice of Dr. Warburton using a mode of expression which he himself used, and that not seldom, to the great offence of those who did not know him. Having occasion to mention a note, stating the different parts which were executed by the associated translators of “ The Odyssey," he says, “ Dr. Warburton told me, in his warm language, that he thought the relation given in the note a lie. The language is warm indeed; and, I must own, cannot be justified in consistency with a decent regard to the established forms of speech. Johnson had accustomed himself to use the word lie, to express a mistake or an errour in relation; in short, when the thing was not so as told, though the relator did not mean to deceive. When he thought there was intentional falsehood in the relator, his expression was, “ He lies, and he knows he lies.”
Speaking of Pope's not having been known to excel in conversation, Johnson observes, that, “traditional memory retains no sallies of raillery, or sentences of observation; nothing either pointed or solid, wise or merry; and that one apophthegm only is recorded.” In this respect, Pope differed widely from Johnson, whose conversation was, perhaps, more admirable than even his writings, however ex. . cellent. Mr. Wilkes has, however, favoured me with one repartee of Pope, of which Johnson was
1781. not informed. Johnson, after justly censuring him za for having “nursed in his mind a foolish dis-esteem
of Kings,” tells us, “yet a little regard shewn him by the Prince of Wales melted his obduracy; and he had not much to say when he was asked by his Royal Highness, how he could love a Prince, while he disliked Kings?” The answer which Pope made, was, “ The young lion is harmless, and even playful; but when his claws are full grown he becomes cruel, dreadful and mischievous.”
But although we have no collection of Pope's sayings, it is not therefore to be concluded, that he was not agreeable in social intercourse; for Johnson has been heard to say, that “the happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly reinembered, but a general effect of pleasing impression.” The late Lord Somerville, who saw much both of great and brilliant life, told me, that he had dined in company with Pope, and that after dinner the little man, as he called him, drank his bottle of Burgundy, and was
exceedingly gay and entertaining . I cannot withhold from my great friend a censure
2 [James Lord Somerville, who died in 1766. M.]
Let me here express my grateful remembrance of Lord Somerville's kindness to me, at a very early period. He was the first person of high rank that took particular notice of ine in the way most flattering to a young man fondly ambitious of being distinguished for his literary talents; and by the honour of his encouragement made me think well of myself, and aspire to deserve it better. He had a happy art of communicating his varied knowledge of the world, in short remarks and anecdotes, with a quiet pleasant gravity, that was exceedingly engaging. Never shall I forget the hours which I enjoyed with him at his apartments in the Royal Palace of Holy-Rood House, and at his seat near Edinburgh, which he himself had formed with an elegant taste.
of at least culpable inattention, to a nobleman, who, 1781. it has been shewn, behaved to him with uncommon
'Etat. 72 politeness. He says, “ Except Lord Bathurst, none of Pope's noble friends were such as that a good man would wish to have his inu. Jacy with them known to posterity.” This will not apply to Lord Mansfield, ' who was not ennobled in Pope's life time; but John. son should have recollected, that Lord Marchmont was one of those noble friends. He includes his Lordship along with Lord Bolingbroke, in a charge of neglect of the papers which Pope left by his will; when, in truth, as I myself pointed out to him, before he wrote that poet's life, the papers were “committed to the sole care and judgement of Lord Bolingbroke, unless he .(Lord Bolingbroke) shall not survive me;" 50 that Lord Murchmont had no concern whatever with them. After the first edition of the Lives, Mr. Malone, whose love of justice is equal to his accuracy, made, in my hearing, the same remark to Johnson; yet he omitted to correct the erroneous statement. These particulars I mention, in the belief that there was only forgetfulness in my friend; but I owe this much to the Earl of Marchmont's reputation, who, were there no other memorials, will be immortalized by that line of Pope, in the verses on his Grotto:
« And the bright flame was shot through March
s [This glect, however, assuredly did not arise from any ille will towards Lord Marchmont, but from inattention; just as he neglected to correct the statement concerning the family of Thomson, the poet, after it had been shewn to be erroneous.
pet, after it bad hent concerning on; just as he
Various Reading in the Life of Pope'.
“Somewhat free] sufficiently bold in his criticism, " All the gay niceties) varieties of diction.
“ Strikes the imagination with far [more] greater force.
“ It is [probably] certainly the noblest version of poetry which the world has ever seen. .
“Every sheet enabled him to write the next with [less trouble] more facility.
“ No man sympathizes with [vanity depressed] the sorrows of vanity.
“ It had been criminal] less easily excused.
“When he [threatened to lay down] talked of lay· ing down his pen.
“ Society (is so named emphatically in opposition to] politically regulated, is a state contra-distinguished from a state of nature.
“ A fictitious life of an [absurd] infatuated scholar.
“ A foolish (contempt, disregard,] disesteem of Kings.
“His hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows [were like those of other mortals] acted strongly upon his
• Eager to pursue knowledge and attentive to [accumulate] retain it.
.“ A mind [excursive] active, ambitious, and adventurous.
“In its (noblest] widest searches still longing to go forward.
“ He wrote in such a manner as might expose him to few (neglects] hazards.
“ The [reasonableness) justice of my determina- 1781. tion.
Ætat. 72. “ A [favourite] delicious employment of the poets.
“ More terrifick and more powerful [beings] phantoms perform on the stormy ocean.
“ The inventor of [those] this petty [beings] nation.
“ The [mind] heart katurally loves truth.”
In the Life of ADDISON we find an unpleasing account of his having lent Steele a hundred pounds, and “reclaimed his loan by an execution.” In the new edition of the Biographia Britannica, the authen. ticity of this anecdote is denied. But Mr. Malone has obliged me with the following note concerning it:
“Many persons having doubts concerning this fact, I applied to Dr. Johnson, to learn on what authority he asserted it. He told me, he had it from Savage, who lived in intimacy with Steele, and who mentioned, that Steele told him the story with tears in his eyes.Ben Victor, Dr. Johnson said, likewise informed him of this remarkable transaction, from the relation of Mr. Wilkes the comedian, who was also an intimate of Steele's. -Some in defence of Addison, have said, that the act was done with the good natured view of rousing Steele, and correcting that profusion which always made him necessitous.'
If that were the case, (said Johnson,) and that he I only wanted to alarm Steele, he would afterwards
* [The late Mr. Burke informed me, in 1792, that Lady Dorothea Primrose, who died at a great age, I think in 1768, and had þeen well acquainted with Steele, told him the same story. M.)